This is our first blog post with “Make it Grand” and we couldn’t be more excited! We are Inspired Realities, wedding planners/coordinators serving the Twin Cities. We consider ourselves more of a boutique planner – customizing each wedding to the couple we work with (as it should be) and taking on just a few weddings a year so we can invest all our resources for your wedding. Please visit our website and stalk our facebook page to get to know a little more about who we are and what we do. We believe that for us to be at our most effective, you have to WANT to work with us – and we’ve been told we’re pretty fun ladies so that makes it easy. But enough about us, let’s get to the topic at hand: VENUES
Where to begin??
You’ve set a date and now you need a place. Because let’s face it, as romantic and convenient as having your wedding in your mom and dad’s beautifully, recently landscaped back yard, it can be more stressful than it’s worth. Never mind the rogue swans running amuck!
So, unless you’ve booked your date based on the availability of your chosen venue (which of course is always a good option if you have some flexibility), you need to start the mad search to find a venue that:
- fits your budget
- holds all your guests
- and of course, is not already booked!
These three things are the most important. Style, location, and amenities can be negotiable. Understanding these will help you stay focused during your search.
Let’s get started then, shall we!
This is so important and an area we strive to keep in mind with all decisions during the planning process. We never recommend going into debt for a wedding. We’d rather you save on the wedding and splurge on the honeymoon. To that end, begin talking to your wedding planner early to enlist her (or his!) extensive data on venues that fit your budget. We tell our clients, if it’s not in your budget (even if you reprioritized the favors and other “nice to haves”) then don’t go see it. Why? Because you might just fall in love with something you can’t really have. And that is a huge bummer. Plus, every other venue will not be that venue and you’ll start off disappointed. Not a fun way to plan for your wedding.
Bottom line: set your budget early, know what’s a “must have” and what’s not, and then stick to it.
Every venue has a capacity limit and you have a guest list. These two must match as closely as possible. You can count on at least 75% of your guests to show up, but you need to have the space if you’re one of the lucky who has all 250 people RSVP “yes.” So now from your long list of venues in your budget, narrow it further by eliminating those venues that don’t fit your space needs.
Then take that list and start calling (or have your planner do the leg work for you!) and confirm which of your final locations have your selected date open. This will narrow your list down to hopefully just a handful. Your next step is to go on your site visits to really get a good feel for what the venue is like. Photos are fantastic to provide that first impression – but sometimes church basements smell, bathrooms are too small, or there’s some weird stain on the ceiling. It’s best to know exactly what you have to work with. And don’t forget to take your Planner with you! We have great on the spot ideas on how to deal with some of these issues, and can provide an outside perspective on the pros/cons of any given location. We’re also very good at negotiating with the owners (like getting that stain cleaned off…)
How to find them – the venues?
This can be really fun – and really overwhelming. Overwhelming because there are SO many venues out there and not all of them provide info on their websites that would help you keep or toss them from your list. We suggest doing the following:
- Where have friends been married? Did you like that space? Ask the newlyweds if they’d recommend it (and share their pricing info)
- Does anyone close to you belong to a club that would have space available?
- Get feet on the ground. Ask friends and family to keep their eyes open for spaces. In our experience with planning weddings, there is usually an army of people wanting and willing to help. This is a great way to enlist them and spread out your resources!
- What do you drive by to and from work every day? Parks, event centers, restaurants, churches, etc. If you see a space/building that stands out, do a little digging and see if they have rental space (again, enlist your Planner to help with the negotiations)
- Think outside the box. There is a building I run by on my normal route that is absolutely amazing – but it’s nothing like a normal space. It’s an old grain elevator! I did a little google searching, called them up and found that they’re currently renovating the space. So struck out there for any 2013 weddings, however, if my wedding wasn’t until 2014 or later, I might be in luck! And generally, city owned municipal buildings are really reasonably priced.
- And lastly, get in touch with a Planner. I know, shameless plugs throughout, but we wouldn’t be in this business if we weren’t passionate about helping you navigate and plan what should be one of the happiest days of your life. (We know; we’re both married and I know for me it ranks in my top 5… the others being my kids being born and a couple very fantastic days.) But having an experienced person on your side doing everything they can to be your advocate, assistant, guide is one of the best investments you can make.
They’re BOOKED! Now what?!
GAH! This can happen. But don’t lose hope! If your list of finalists all end up being booked on your chosen day, it’s time to reevaluate a little. If your date is at all flexible, talk to each other about adjusting it in order to get the venue you want. Talk about having a Friday evening wedding (bonus here: the cost usually goes down for non-Saturday weddings). If the date is not flexible, go back to your original list and talk about the pros/cons of each remaining venue. If that still comes up short, take a look at your budget again. (I know I said stick to it, but there’s always an exception to the rule, right?) Look at what potentially frivolous thing are you shelling out money for (favors, monogramed napkins, swans…) that could be cut from your plans and allow you to flow a bit more cash into the venue that was previously out of your set budget.
Making the Decision:
You’ve found it! The perfect location. Now, time to put down the money to hold the space for your date. As soon as you know this is the space, book it! Wedding venues are like Café Latte cheesecakes, they’re the first to get snatched up. Followed by Photographers, DJs, and Planners. While you’re doing your site visits, if you find a place you really like but you haven’t finished looking through your list – ask the venue to place a tentative hold for you on your date. Often they will do this for 7 days (sometimes longer if they don’t have any other people looking for that particular date and they’ll usually do it for free). Just remember as a courtesy, to follow up with the ones you aren’t taking and release the hold. This will make other couples very happy.
Now you’re ready to begin! Search high, low and in all the unique spaces you can and remember to HAVE FUN while you’re doing it. Grab a coffee and make a date of the visits. Cozy up on the couch with your laptop while the other plays Xbox (FYI: I know plenty of girls who would be the Xbox player and the guy would be meticulously reviewing sites.) However you do it, just be sure to make it enjoyable!
Questions? Likely! We’re here to answer them for you. Our consultations are free and we really do love to talk about weddings so give us a call and chat us up. If we can help alleviate at least one headache for you, we will – even if you decide hiring a Planner isn’t for you.
Just a few of our favorite venues we’d like to share with you:
The Landmark Center
Abetto’s Banquet Center
The St. Paul College Club